I was unable to attend the monthly TE school board meeting last night. But fortunately Ray Clarke was at the meeting and supplied the following notes:
Buraks read a statement to the effect that the Board has entered into discussions with both TENIG and the TEEA to explore the opportunity for “Early Bird” contracts. All parties have agreed to a “gag order” in order to “give the best odds of reaching agreement” (or words to that effect). The public will be kept informed as the process evolves. In response to my question (and after consulting with the solicitor (!)) Buraks stated that the Board representatives for TENIG are Brake, Bruce, Fadem, for TEEA are Cruickshank, Graham, Motel. There was no information provided as to new TEEA leadership.
The other item of note was the Priority Discussion on the Act 93 salary adjustments. Waters gave a lot of detail in an oral report that reiterated the general agreement from January, but of course, the only thing we had to follow was the table in the Agenda materials that kindly calculated 1% of each individual’s salary for the arithmetically challenged! Of course, we could go look up somewhere the 2012/13 salaries, but why not just put them in the table to help the Board and community get some perspective?
The Board reiterated its opposition to the Keystone exams. As a survivor of the UK’s “11 Plus” which determined our future at 10 years old, I’m not well qualified to comment on that!
The District’s collective bargaining agreements with TENIG (custodians, support staff and kitchen workers) and TEEA (the teachers union) expire on June 30, 2014. In addition, the District’s arrangement with the aides and paras for the 2013/14 school year also expires in June. Unless I’m missing something, it appears that the entire workforce of the TE School District is ‘under discussion’ with the exception of the administration. I am glad to see that school board members (Cruickshank, Graham, Motel) are sitting at the negotiation table this time around with the teachers union. (If you recall, this was not the case the last time).
I hope that the Board President Buraks is sincere about the School Board keeping the public informed during the the process as Ray notes suggested. It was the lack of transparency during the last teachers contract negotiations that troubled many of us — I re-read an old CM post on this topic from April 2012, ‘Seeking Transparency in TESD Teacher Contract Negotiations’ which had a follow-up post on May 17, 2012, ‘TE Teachers Turn on Transparency Lights in Contract Negotiations’ . In re-reading these posts and the many comments, what was striking was the need for regular updates to the public by the Board. The lack of information and/or misinformation during the contract negotiations aggravated an already difficult situation. In the CM post of May 17, 2012, I wrote,
” … making the teacher contract negotiation process transparent for the public would help the community understand how our children will be taught and how our tax dollars will be invested. The relationship between teachers and school administrators is an important element in what shapes this school district. There is no better way to understand this relationship than to observe the contract negotiation process. …”
I remain hopeful that the contract negotiations between the District and TEEA (and TENIG) will be open, honest and as transparent as possible. To clarify — representing the teachers union, is TEEA president Dr. Bob DeSipio, Conestoga HS science teacher. TENIG president is Mary Minicozzi.